Monday, April 22, 2013

a critique of objectification-culture

i've always found the notion that women are the natural carriers of physical beauty or eroticism in the world preposterous. men are no less beautiful or erotic in their many shapes and guises. its a question of how one looks at people. 

women are objectified to maintain the power imbalance of a sexist world that prefers to reduce them to sources of visual and sexual stimulation, rather than human beings to be experienced. this furthers the edict that those of lesser value in society should be seen and not heard. quite unfortunately, the vast majority of women have adapted rather than resisted this persistent distortion, doing everything possible to turn their assignment as exclusive carriers of two-dimensional sex appeal into a virtue, a power and a source of self-esteem. 

in fact, the more sexually evocative and attractive a woman feels, gauged exclusively according to feedback from her environment and her adherence to popular trends, the more she feels buttressed against the inevitable core inadequacies that come when one lives skin deep, the more she is blinded to her own avoidance of deeper self-encounter, and therefore the more controllable she becomes. 

as more and more women prop up their self-concept with acquiescence to a climate of air-brushed objectification-chique, submitting to the politics of male voyeurism, the more such distortions are furthered in the culture of men who profit from this unexamined dynamic of carried-over but now laundered and subtextualized patriarchy.

the possibility of true equality, authentic relationship, and cooperative development rests on the ability of our culture to see objectification not as some playful and harmless trifle or a celebration of feminine charms, but as an insidious devolution which conditions us to ascribe roles to both men and women that no longer serve society or the individual. it has always been possible to create images and art that evoke the beauty and erotic vitalism of both men and women in ways that doesn't demean or trivialize the people being depicted, it is the culture and the culture alone that has demonstrated a disinterest and inappetance for it. 

until women master this possibility for radical change and create space for its development and continued emergence, until we reclaim the integrity of our whole bodies through a reunification of our sexual self-image with our deeper source-grounds, we will continue to lop towards the future, blind to our participation with and furtherance of these artificial roles which don't make us as happy or turned on or satisfied as we like to imagine they do.

perhaps even more important, we won't be able to model a way forward for men, for they too have been emotionally and psychologically crippled by this climate that still too few dare question, which, for purposes of power and profit, associates sexual desire with the need to reduce a woman to an 'it' that can be consumed and discarded at will and as it becomes her lot in life, rather than respected, known and experienced as something completely different but equal.

No comments: